This month, 109 Portland-area Little Big Burger workers are voting in a mail-in election on whether or not to formally unionize. Organizers allege the company is union-busting before the vote.
On July 10, Cameron Crowell—who, according to the Little Big Union, was an "active union leader"—said he was fired for failing to refill napkin dispensers and sauce bottles during a closing shift. Crowell had worked at the Northwest 23rd Avenue Little Big Burger for two years.
"It was so disorienting to see my manager, who has never talked to me this way, completely change after we began standing up for ourselves," Crowell said in a statement. "Someone who offered me a manager position less than a year ago."
Crowell said his firing came two days after he'd been touring Little Big Burger stores talking to workers about the upcoming union vote. He added that Fred Glick, the president of Little Big Burger's holding company, North Carolina-based Chanticleer Holdings, sat in on his firing.
The Little Big Union alleged that seven union supporters have been fired since the union went public in March. It plans to file charges of unfair firing practices with the National Labor Relations Board.
In April, Little Big Burger hired local law firm Bullard Law Group, which also represents the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, which has been accused of resisting union organizing efforts in the past year.
Jason Assad, a spokesman for the company, says Little Big Burger couldn't comment on the specifics of Crowell's termination, but has "always enforced rules with a neutral hand," and generally does not, "terminate an employee for a one time occurrence."
"I would add that, claiming you are a known, active, 'union leader' does not immunize you from possibly intentional and destructive behavior," Assad says.
Correction: An earlier version of this story noted that Burgerville is represented by Bullard Law Group. The company is actually represented by Tonkon Torp. WW regrets the error.